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student honors

Honoring Our Students

The Chancellor’s Honors Banquet is a time each year we gather to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our UT students, faculty, and staff. This year, in order to allow for better social distancing, the ceremony took place across two nights. Congratulations to the following College of Arts and Sciences students on your 2021 Chancellor’s Honors Awards and 2021 Academic Honors.

Torchbearer is the highest honor the university gives to its undergraduate students. Recognition as a Torchbearer reminds us all that those who bear the Torch of Enlightenment shadow themselves to give light to others.

Maria Urias is studying sociology with minors in social entrepreneurship, leadership studies, and political science. She is involved with the Honors Leadership Program, Baker Scholars, the JCLS, SGA, and Alpha Kappa Psi. She contributed to the initiative to rename White Hall after Theotis Robinson Jr. and wrote a referendum in 2019 to amend the Student Code of Conduct.

“Being a Volunteer means caring about your community, actively trying to improve life for yourself and those around you, and having a healthy disregard for the impossible. To truly be a Tennessee Volunteer means to embody the Torchbearer’s Creed in every aspect of life, and to disrupt complacency and ignorance whenever possible,” Urias said. “UT has empowered me by introducing me to amazing peers that have encouraged me and incredible faculty and staff that have mentored me. If it were not for the friends and amazing people I met at this institution, I would not be who I am today.”

Madison Woods Madison Woods, of Memphis, Tennessee, is a senior studying psychology. During her undergraduate career, Woods has been extensively involved as the Student Education director for VOLbreaks, a Leadership Knoxville Scholar, Ignite leader, Multicultural Mentoring Program, the Chancellor’s Honors Program, Student Basic Needs Coalition, psychology research assistant, and more.

“To me, being a Volunteer means to inspire. During my four years at the University of Tennessee, I have met hundreds of exceptional students, faculty, and staff. I have sat in countless rooms, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, learning about their own individual experiences. As a leader in a multitude of spaces, I have realized that my passion lies in inspiring others to lead and pursue their passions. My goal in everything I do is to be able to inspire others to lead, grow, and challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves,” Woods said.

“When I first began my undergraduate career four years ago, I found a home in Student Life and developed lasting relationships with my mentors and close friends. These people empowered me to stand up and speak out about my values and passion for social change. The Office of Multicultural Student Life and Jones Center for Leadership and Service gave me many opportunities to grow as a leader and become confident in myself. Through all the hard times when I felt like giving up when I missed my family back home, I always knew that UT was the only place I belonged and would give me the best experience of my life.”

Josie Campbell Josie Campbell received the Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award, which recognizes a student or group for promoting cultural diversity and enrichment on campus. Campbell is a senior studying cello performance. She is the co-founder and president of the UT Black Musicians Alliance and a member of the School of Music Diversity Task Force. After graduation, Josie will pursue a Master of Music Performance degree in London as a 2021 Marshall Scholar.

“To me, being a Volunteer means being a leader and being a member of a society that strives to make the world a more inclusive and safer space for all groups of people,” Campbell said. “UT has empowered me to make a difference through the constant guidance and persistence of various professors, faculty, and organizations. I have been able to find and develop my voice as a musician, leader, and activist through the opportunities UT has provided me. UT not only helped me grow as a student but also as a person and a change maker.”

Amanda Hyman Amanda Hyman received the Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Graduate Student Medal of Excellence, which is awarded annually to an outstanding student currently pursuing a PhD who has completed at least four semesters of study. Originally from Wisconsin, Hyman received her BS from Montana State University and MS from Virginia Tech. She is a third year PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. When she is not working, you can find her hiking, biking, and climbing.

The Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service awards recognize graduating students who are extraordinary campus leaders for their significant service to others. Arden Gillchrest, Emily Medford, Emma Kate Hall, Gustavo Morrice, and Sarah D’Onofrio represented the College of Arts and Sciences well in this category.

Arden Gillchrest Arden Gillchrest is a first-generation college student who has enjoyed being an active part of the University of Tennessee. Through academic endeavors, student organizations, and community involvement, Arden has loved being a part of the Volunteer community.

“A Volunteer is not just a mascot. It’s an ideal, one that no matter where you are, no matter what your background, or what situation you find yourself in, you can always do your part to help someone else in need. It’s not about logging community service hours or getting a pat on the back, it’s about doing something every day to make your community a better place than it is right now,” Gillchrest said.

Emily Medford Emily Medford of Morristown, Tennessee, is a senior majoring in neuroscience with a minor in biological sciences. Her involvement has included serving as a resident assistant, undergraduate research assistant, 1794 Honors Scholar, PiPES summer camp counselor, UT Medical Center volunteer, and ASPIRE Scholar. She has held leadership positions within the VOLS 2 VOLS Peer Health Educators and Student Government Association’s Undergraduate Student Senate and Health and Wellness Committee.

“Being a Volunteer means striving to be a friend, resource, and light to others. It’s about being the person you needed during hard times. UT has allowed me so many opportunities to leave this campus better than I found it. This campus is full of so many dedicated people who want to see all Volunteers succeed. If you have a passion and idea on how to better serve students, there are so many people who will help you see your idea to fruition. The attitude of this campus community is motivating and inspiring,” Medford said.

Emma Kate Hall Emma Kate Hall proudly hails from Lebanon, Tennessee, and is pursuing a political science major and communication studies minor. She’s a Haslam Scholar, Peyton Manning Scholar, Normandy Scholar, Leadership Knoxville Scholar, the Student Services Director, and is involved in a number of other campus organizations. She is honored to have had the opportunity to serve the Volunteer community and looks forward to continuing to bear the torch beyond this hallowed hill.

“Being a Volunteer signifies a willingness to engage and get involved with the communities around you, and because of this, being a Volunteer actually becomes part of who you are. When this place becomes impossible to separate from your identity, it not only becomes a place you can call home, but it also means you’ve become a true Volunteer, bearing the torch and lighting the way. UT allows students to not just gain education, but also pushes us to allow that education to serve more than just ourselves. UT is a call to action, and the real work begins when we leave this place. It has been a distinct honor to spend the past four years learning how to become a Volunteer, and I will carry this place with me long after I leave Rocky Top,” Hall said.

Gustavo Morrice is from Nashville and will be graduating this May with a major in Hispanic Studies and a minor in chemistry. As a pre-dental student, he hopes to someday serve Hispanic youth as a bilingual pediatric dentist. In his time at UT, Gustavo has given campus tours as a Student Ambassador, led small groups as an orientation leader, supervised students as a resident assistant, and served as co-chair for Vols Against Cancer, helping fundraise nearly $100,000 for the American Cancer Society.

“Being a Volunteer means using my privilege and talents to empower and uplift those around me to the best of my ability. Academically, my classes in Hispanic Studies have made me comfortable and confident within my own identity and created a fire and passion in my heart to serve the Hispanic youth, a community that is often left out in today’s society. I have personally seen and experienced the importance of bilingualism in schools, out in public, and within the dental field and cannot wait to be a bilingual pediatric dentist so as to better serve this community and create positive change one step at a time. While my time here was temporary, the impression UT has left on me is forever, and I know I will bring that Volunteer Spirit into everything I do,” Morrice said.

Sarah D’Onofrio Sarah D’Onofrio is a doctoral student in sociology who studies the social, legal, and environmental inequalities caused by industrial agriculture. Along with teaching Food, Agriculture, and Society (SOCI 363), Sarah is heavily involved with efforts to reduce hunger on campus. She serves as the faculty advisor for the Student Basic Needs Coalition, which goes beyond the goal of addressing food insecurity by advocating access to healthy and affordable food as a right for all. Sarah also brings her excitement for food justice to the leadership of the End Hunger/ Feed Change initiative. In conjunction with EH/FC, she frequently gives talks and serves on panels that interrogate the structural causes of food inequality and insecurity on campus and beyond.

“Being a volunteer means using whatever abilities you have to improve the community around you and expecting nothing in return. I’m proud to be surrounded by so many people at UT who tirelessly devote their time and effort to ensure that everyone on campus has access to healthy, affordable food,” D’Onofrio said.

The Extraordinary Community Service Award honors students and student organizations that exhibit the Volunteer spirit in the community. Students from the College of Arts and Sciences honored with this award are Shahd Abbas, Joseph Paschall, Christina Cho, and Ashley Browning.

Shahd Abbas Shahd Abbas is a student leader in All Campus Theatre and Volunteer Short Films, two organizations where she found a home to practice her passions and provide opportunities for others, especially during a pandemic that limited theatre and film. Shahd has served as an orientation leader and an Ignite team leader.

“Being a volunteer means being there and making a good difference for others. At UT, I was inspired to write a musical that advocates for mental health awareness and provides opportunities for fellow theatre and film students,” said Abbas.

Joseph Paschall Joseph Paschall is part of numerous organizations on campus. He serves as a VOLbreaks student director, Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature president, and Student Basic Needs Coalition Government Affairs director and Tennessee State chair. He has served as a healthcare worker taking care of vulnerable populations throughout the pandemic.

“Being a Volunteer means being present and engaged with the community through times of comfort and distress. At UT, I have been empowered to engage with those around me to form a more encouraging and equitable environment for all. UT has allowed me to work with people of different backgrounds and opinions that I would not have met elsewhere,” Paschall said.

Christina Cho Since her freshman year, Christina Cho has kept a part of herself in the Jones Center for Leadership and Service. From a Jones Center student coordinator to a VOLBreak leader, she has found a love for servant leadership and community involvement that will undoubtedly impact her as she continues her career.
Ashley Browning Ashley Browning is a native of Belfry, Kentucky. She acquired a BS in correctional and juvenile justice studies from Eastern Kentucky University in 2008, an MA in sociology from East Tennessee State University in 2011, is a PhD student in the sociology program, and is obtaining a Cultural Studies in Education certificate.

“To me, being a Volunteer means serving the community and building connections to empower the UT and Knoxville communities. I became involved in service-learning as a course requirement, and it completely changed the way I viewed the connection between the community and academia. This has empowered me to consider areas of research surrounding vulnerability and resource accessibility for marginalized student populations that can improve the lives of future Vols,” Browning said.

Cameron Cook and Holland Prior received the Graduate Student Teaching Award, which honors graduate student excellence in instruction.

Cook is a fifth year PhD student in the Department of Mathematics with research focusing on runner models. He attended UNC–Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree, taught high school mathematics before attending UT, and is married to Riley Cook. An avid runner himself, he also coaches the UT Running Club.

“Being a Volunteer means giving yourself and your time to something greater. While I enjoy pursuing my passions and striving for personal success, being a Tennessee Volunteer has allowed me the opportunity to use my strengths to help others succeed. Whether that be through teaching, mentoring, coaching, or actual volunteering, I have been able to guide students in their academic journey, cheer student athletes to the finish line, and help bring purpose to students’ learning,” Cook said. “I love the courses I usually teach, Mathematics for the Life Sciences 1 and 2 as these courses allow the instructor the space to show students how powerful and useful mathematics is in the biological world. As a graduate student at UT, one of the most meaningful components has been the great autonomy I have been allowed as the instructor of record for Mathematics for the Life Science courses. With the trust and guidance of my advisor, I have enjoyed infusing my teaching style and pedagogical values into these courses.”

Holland Prior Prior is a doctoral candidate in rhetoric, writing, and linguistics. In addition to teaching composition at UT, she has conducted research on student experiences in first-year composition courses and developed curriculum for online writing course modalities. Holland currently serves as assistant director of composition in the Department of English.

“My experiences at UT have enabled me to expand my research and expertise in new directions to help empower people to use their voices, and I’ve been deeply grateful for the opportunities to serve instructors and students across our campus through the writing program,” Prior said.